It’s a mixture or art and science, but in his analysis of what top free agents can expect to get this summer, John Hollinger believes that Bruce Brown could wind up with a bigger deal than Spencer Dinwiddie.
Using his own analytic tool and a look at the free agent landscape, The Athletic’s cap guru —and former vice president for basketball operations with the Grizzlies — believes that Brown could command a starting salary of $14.8 million in 2021-22, nearly $2 million more than Dinwiddie’s $13.1 million.
Hollinger doesn’t claim any inside information — and he notes, incorrectly, that Dinwiddie hasn’t yet turned down his $12.3 million player option — but his analysis offers more grist to the mill regarding the Nets two biggest free agency decisions (along with Blake Griffin) this summer.
The former ESPN writer uses data from what he calls BORD$ (Big Ol’ Rating Dollars) tool, which is based on: “two variables: the expected quality of the players’ minutes, and how many minutes we’d expect the player to play on an average team.” He also takes into account just how much of a comparative market there might be for a player and the luxury tax burden where it applies.
In talking up Brown, Hollinger talks about the Nets’ “positionless” player’s skills, but notes as well that he could be worth less to other teams than to the Nets...
This is probably on the high side of valuations for Brown given that he’ll likely never be a knockdown shooter and his funky mix of skills might not work for some rosters. Fortunately for the Nets, that likely also will prevent a distasteful offer sheet coming their way, which is important given that the Nets will be tens of millions into the luxury tax and pay a huge premium on any dollars given to Brown.
History tells us that teams pay for offense but not players like Brown, so I’m guessing he gets quite a bit less than this. Any offer sheet for the midlevel exception or less should be a no-brainer for the Nets to match; the question is whether they can stomach the tax implications. As the roster currently stands, a $10 million salary for Brown this year would cost the Nets $50 million with the tax.
As for Dinwiddie, who’s put his own value at somewhere between three years and $60 million and five years and $125 million, Hollinger thinks he’s overestimating his market and cites his two ACL injuries (in different knees) as part of the reasoning.
Spencer Dinwiddie has one of the more fascinating free-agent trajectories this offseason. For starters, he has a player option for $12.3 million for next season. While it’s unlikely he picks it up, it is theoretically possible he could do an “extend-and-trade” starting from that number that would allow the Nets to move him to another team and get something back.
Less fancifully, there is the question of Dinwiddie’s value if he signs with another team outright. Coming off a partial ACL tear and having already torn an ACL in college, how much should teams discount his potential production at age 28? Is he worth paying as a leading man, or is he better off in a sixth-man role?
He’ll be further down the list after (Mike) Conley and (Kyle) Lowry for teams shopping in a strong point guard market but will likely cost less. Dinwiddie averaged 20.6 points a game in the Before Times of 2019-20 but only shoots 31.8 percent from 3 for his career and plays more to score than pass. Can you live with that for, say, three years and $40 million?
There’s been a lot of speculation about a sign-and-trade for Dinwiddie, but no details yet. And has been noted, the team that acquires a player in a sign-and-trade gets hard-capped and loses its ability to use exceptions like the MLE. Not an attractive option for a team like the Lakers or Clippers, reportedly his destinations of choice, who are hoping to contend next season. (The Nets would not be so penalized unless it were a double sign-and-trade.)
Would Brooklyn be willing to sign both Brown and Dinwiddie or would they have to make a choice? The prospects for huge luxury tax payouts in the out years, particularly if the “Big Three” were to be extended, would seem onerous, record-setting. It would appear that Brown at nearly $15 million a year would be way too rich for the Nets’ blood while a three-year, $40 million deal for Dinwiddie might very well be more attractive. Dinwiddie’s player option would have been worth $12.3 million in 2021-22, not far below what Hollinger thinks he will be worth next season.
Beyond tax payments, any decision on the two (and other decisions) would be based on what’s the best use of Joe Tsai’s money. Are there other players who would be a better fit?
Hollinger, of course, is not Woj nor Shams or Steinie. That’s not what he does. He compiles data and tries to analyze it, been doing it for years. The Nets have their own modeling. Two veteran members of their analytics crew — Glenn DuPaul and Rami Antoun — use their own analysis to come up with reasonable packages for use in discussions of free agency and trades. In the end, it will be their number-crunching along with capologist Andrew Baker’s that will help Sean Marks determine just how much Brown and Dinwiddie make next year ... and where.
- 2021 NBA free agency: John Hollinger’s Top 20 free agents by BORD$ projections (with formula tweaks!) - John Hollinger - The Athletic NBA